Israel’s Sagi Muki bested former world champion Nagase Takanori of Japan in the U81kg final in Ekaterinburg to win his third Grand Slam gold medal. Paris Grand Slam silver medallist Muki waited until the closing seconds before launching with seven seconds left with a shoulder throw for a waza-ari and world number 153 Nagase had to settle for silver in his first outing for 2019.
In the first semi-final World Judo Masters bronze medallist Frank De Wit (NED) fell to Nagase after three and a half minutes of golden score. The Japanese won by ippon from an o-uchi-gari to advance to the gold medal contest. In the second semi-final Muki outlasted Düsseldorf Grand Slam bronze medallist Matthias Casse (BEL) in golden score as he forced a waza-ari score from a seoi-nage.
The first bronze medal was won by 2017 Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist Etienne Briand (CAN) after Casse was penalised with a shido for a false attack and this was his third and final indiscretion.
By receiving a third penalty, Casse automatically made Briand the winner after a bout that lasted over 9 minutes. Briand: “It was a long fight, his style was very defensive. I couldn’t make him fall, but it’s okay for the fight to end this way,” said Briand, who hadn’t won a Grand Slam medal since May 2017. “A Grand Slam medal is always satisfying. It was about time for such a performance!”
In repechage, Briand defeated the Rio Olympic champion, Russian Khasan Khalmurzaev. 30 seconds were long enough for the 26-year-old to earn a spot in the bronze-medal bout. “He had a difficult fight before mine. I was confident I could make him fall.”
The second bronze medal was claimed by Junior World Championships bronze medallist Luka Maisuradze (GEO) who dispatched De Wit with aplomb. De Wit, who was spotted fulfilling picture requests from young Russian fans outside the stadium during the break, was caught after 90 seconds as the Georgian got in close for a front uchi-mata and ippon. De Wit lives dangerously with a ‘throw or be thrown’ attitude which makes his contests exciting and unpredictable and this was proof of that as Maisuradze earned his first Grand Slam prize.